After a run on Showtime last year and release on CD and DVD, the documentary Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church -- about his legendary July 4, 1970 performance at the second Atlanta International Pop Festival -- is headed to the big screen.
The film's theatrical run -- through Abramorama, which also did Ron Howard's documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week -- The Touring Years -- begins Jan. 31, including a special screening at the ArcLight Hollywood theater that will include a discussion by director John McDermott of Experience Hendrix, record producer and engineer Eddie Kramer, Experience Hendrix CEO Janie Hendrix and Steve Rash, the original producer/director of Atlanta Pop. Other openings will take place into early April, and the Feb. 25 screening in Nashville will feature a Q&A with longtime Hendrix bassist Billy Cox.
"For us it's always about promoting Jimi and exposing him to as broad an audience as we can," McDermott tells Billboard. "Nothing articulates Hendrix better than Hendrix. We can yack all day long, but he's the guy who grabs everybody. To see him on a film screen, larger than life, you get to really understand what he was about. And there's so little of Jimi talking about his motives, his vision. So it's best for us to put him out there like this and show people what was going on."
Besides Hendrix's performance, Electric Church also features interviews with bandmates Cox and drummer Mitch Mitchell, along with Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Rich Robinson (Black Crowes, Magpie Salute), festival organizer Alex Cooley and more. "The excitement of seeing this vibrant, unusually talented guy do these things, that's what connects and inspires people," says McDermott. "That's what's behind the strategy of trying to do this. If it gets the fan out who hasn’t paid attention in a while, or if it gets young people who are intrigued with Jimi and, obviously, never saw him perform live, that's what we're trying to do."
The Electric Church theater rollout follows last year's major Experience Hendrix project, the 50th anniversary deluxe edition of his Electric Ladyland album. An Experience Hendrix tour is going out this spring -- with Joe Satriani back in the lineup for the first time since 2012 -- and McDermott and Kramer are planning to meet at the end of January to "go over some ideas" for future releases, including Hendrix's 1970 performance in Maui captured partly in 1971's Rainbow Bridge. There may also be some sort of Hendrix presence at this year's Woodstock festival 50th anniversary celebrations after a 3D image during Woodstock 99 went unnoticed amidst the chaos at the end of the festival. "It didn't have the impact we thought it was going to have," McDermott notes. "Michael Lang always said we should do something else. If there's a way to do something cool, we will. We just have to figure out something that would connect in a meaningful way and not just be shoehorned in."
Don't expect that to be a Hendrix hologram, however. "I just feel like it cheapens the original guy and his legacy," McDermott explains. "I'd rather see Jimi being Jimi, himself, in a film theater, sounding great, looking great, rather than hiring some guy to be his double and use some trickery like (a hologram). I'd rather people learn about (Hendrix) in an organic, musical way."
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church Dates
Jan 31 - Los Angeles CA - Arc Light Hollywood*
31 - New York - IFC
Feb 1 - 7 - Buffalo NY - North Park Theatre
8 - 10 - Phoenix AZ - FilmBar
11 - Vancouver BC - Vancity Theatre
13 - Seattle WA - SIFF Cinema Uptown **
15 - Shreveport LA - Robinson Film Center
17, 19 - Columbus OH - Gateway Film Center
20 - San Antonio, TX - Santikos Bijou
21- Eugene OR - Broadway Metro
21 - 21, 28 - Hudson NY - Time & Space Limited
22 - Lake Worth, FL - Lakeworth Playhouse
22 - Boise ID - The Flicks
22 - 24 - Albuquerque NM - Guild Cinema
22 - 28 - Howell MI - Historia Howell Theater
22 - 28 - Fayetteville NC - Cameo Art House
22 - Long Beach CA - The Art Theatre
24 - 25 - Cathedral City/Palm Springs CA - Mary Pickford 14
24, 26 - Florence OR - City Lights Cinemas
25 - Nashville TN - Belcourt Theatre ***
25 - Fairfield CT - StageOne
26 - Bellingham WA - Pickford Theater
27 - State College PA - The State Theater
27 - Kansas City MO - Tivoli Cinemas
28 - Newport RI - Janes Pickens Theater
28 - Mystic CT - Mystic Luxury Cinemas
28 - El Paso TX - Alamo Drafhouse
Mar 1 - Baton Rouge LA - Manship Theatre
1 - 3, 9 - 10 Hudson NY - Time & Space Limited
2 - 3 Long Beach CA - The Art Theatre
4 - 5 - Newton NJ - Skylands PAC
5 - 7, 17 -Toronto, ONT - Hot Doc
8 - Schnectady NY - Proctors Theatre
9 - Monterey CA - The Golden State Theatre
11 - Salem OR - Salem Cinema
24 - Asbury Park NJ - Showroom Cinemas
April 3 - Stamford CT - The Avon Theatre Film Center
*Post-screening discussion with Eddie Kramer and John McDermott and Janie Hendrix
**Post-screening discussion with Janie Hendrix
***Post-screening discussion with Billy Cox